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Mandolin Lessons: Soldiers Joy

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they have asked me to teach the tune
Soldier's Joy for you.
So I'm gonna do that here, and I don't
think it's a tune I've taught yet
on the site, although there are many many,
that are there, this one has not shown up
So it's a great old time tune in the key
of D.
Gets played a lot by all different
instruments, fiddles, banjos,
mandolins, guitars.
It seems to work good on all those, all
those instruments.
So I'm gonna play it real, real straight
ahead and simple for
you here to get started just so you can
hear the basic form of the melody.
[SOUND] One, two, one, two, three.
All right, there you have it.
Pretty straight ahead.
I'm playing it just as it's written on
this page, just so you have it that way,
at least once.
And I'll do the same with the chords now.
Here come the chords.
One, two.
It's a D chord.
A starts on a D chord.
Now, that's an A.
G, E.
A, B.
It's a D to an A, back to D.
A, D, G, D, A, D.
That's a very straight ahead simplified
chords for you.
So what's going on with this little tune?
It's in the key of D.
So, one of the things you realize.
Here's your D scale.
It's certainly going to use those notes.
what's cool about this is it uses [NOISE]
the notes of the chord.
What we call an arpeggio.
[SOUND] F-sharp.
[SOUND] And A.
[SOUND] And high D.
[SOUND] It uses those notes a lot.
A lot of fiddle tunes do that.
Outlining the chord, the chord tonalities
of each chord as it goes by.
It starts with a couple of pick up notes.
[SOUND] F-sharp.
[SOUND] And, and G.
[SOUND] Two.
[SOUND] One.
[SOUND] Two.
[SOUND] Three.
[SOUND] Four.
[SOUND] One.
[SOUND] What I mean by pick up notes is
it begins on beat four of the bar before
the actual first down beat.
[SOUND] Two.
[SOUND] One.
[SOUND] Two.
[SOUND] Three.
that dada is a pickup to your down beat.
So you've got F sharp and G.
[SOUND] Leading to an A note and you play
the, the arpeggio.
Two times.
And pay particular attention to the pick
directions in situation like this.
Make sure that you're alternating your
picking from the very beginning.
It should be down, up,
down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up.
Always, no matter the string crossing.
That's very essential.
It's, it's, it's something that I run up
against a lot with folks.
They will get kinda tangled up and they'll
do double downs or
double ups cuz the pick seems to be going
in that direction.
But this is one that I'm a little bit of a
stickler for.
So [LAUGH] watch those pick directions.
Down, up, down, up, down, up, down,
up,down, up, down, down, down.
Now these are, notice that the first bar
is all eighth notes.
Down, up, down, up, down.
The second bar, though has quarter notes.
And those are always downstrokes.
Down, down, down, down, up.
And your last two notes of the second bar.
[SOUND] C-sharp and B.
Lead you back to that same arpeggio.
And bar three.
Same as bar 1.
Now you've got G.
[SOUND] Those are also downstrokes.
[SOUND] Bar 4.
[SOUND] With those pickup notes same as
the beginning of the piece.
Cuz we're heading into bar 5 which is the
same as bar 1.
Bar 6 is the same.
Same as bar 2, except for the end.
It's just a simple open E.
So those are all downstrokes.
And then we have our ending tag.
And that's F-sharp.
And the A.
And D.
[SOUND] Because that's part of a D chord.
And then the next half of that bar is E.
[SOUND] C-sharp.
And those notes.
[SOUND] Spell out an A7.
[SOUND] Okay.
And that's the chord that's happening
right there.
then you simply have your three quarter
notes which were all downstrokes.
And then it repeats back to the top.
So there's the break down of the A
Now the B section starts with these
different pick up notes,
we're going up to the high strings now.
Let me break down just that much.
[SOUND] Pick up notes D and E.
Down, up.
Even though your pick is going in that
[SOUND] Don't be temped to play down,
It's down, up.
[SOUND] F-sharp.
Then you've got F-sharp.
[SOUND] F-Sharp.
This is kind of a long string of notes.
But it simply runs down and comes back up.
[NOISE] Once you play the F-sharp and
the A then you go backwards [NOISE] to the
C-sharp and come right back up.
[SOUND] To the G and then the open E.
I'll play the beginning again.
[SOUND] Two.
And it starts again.
Runs back.
And goes all the way down to the opening.
That second time.
Plays the same pick up notes.
With the same riff.
That's the opening of the B section and
then it tags it with the same tag that we
use to end the A section.
Essentially, outlining a D chord.
And then outlining an A7.
then [NOISE] three quarter notes at the
So there's your breakdown of the, of the
real straight ahead version.
Very very simple and kinda manageable.
One thing is for
sure I'm, I'm always a little suspect when
I see written music for
any of these tunes because, well first of
all it's mainly an oral tradition.
You know, these tunes were passed down by
folks that mainly didn't read music.
And so depending on who you learned the
tune from,
you might learn a slightly different
A, a tune like this will always have the
basic shape of what we think
of as Soldier's Joy.
But, there are so many ways to go about
playing that series of notes and
that basic sort of skeletal structure of a
I'll give you a couple of, of examples of
how a tune like this can,
can evolve and change and still be the
tune you still hear Soldier's Joy.
Okay so Matt,
Matt Glaser calls that fiddlizing it, when
you continue to play eighth notes.
For instance on this B.
You just keep them going.
And what makes that,
what makes that work is that as long
you're landing on these key notes.
I call them target notes,
that's what gives us the feeling that
we're playing the tune.
You know this F-sharp.
This E.
And of course, one, the, the sorta,
next level of, of interest that you could
lend a piece like this,
would be to start introducing syncopation
to it.
If you take these notes.
So instead of ga da da da da,
we end up ge do dah, and that little wait
in there gives it the swing.
So that's a [COUGH] you know one of the
finest examples of, of what a tune like
this could, could evolve into is to listen
to Clarence White play it on guitar.
It was sort of his signature piece.
And the way he could turn a phrase,
and syncopate, and just be all over a tune
like this.
And, it's still holding true to what,
what, you know, Soldier's Joy is.
That's a, that's a thing of beauty to, to
witness, for sure.
The other thing I like to introduce on,
on tunes like this from the old time
Especially if they're in these kind of
keys, open keys,
where we have a lot of open strings.
Is going ahead and playing double stops,
where they work,
meaning open string drone ideas.
So over that D, at the begin.
On this, the whole first two bars.
You can
almost play all of those melodies with
both strings ringing at the same time.
You know, you don't have to adhere to.
The strictness of
just playing the notes that are written.
You can play the double stop drone notes
with it.
then when you get to this E note in bar
four, you can let the A string ring open.
And certainly,
I love to slide into that A note.
You know,
let's say in bar five instead of playing.
Instead of playing that same thing.
I'll play the.
The slide into the A.
And then F-sharp.
Yeah, that's a completely
different melody shape really, but the
fact that it's using the A note so
strongly helps it hold onto the fact that
it's, it's, we're still in the tune.
1, 2, 3.
and there's a, there's a use of
syncopation in bar six.
Instead of.
I simply played.
The A and the D as, as two eighth notes.
And then, I waited.
And played the next E as an up.
One and two and three.
Okay, so this is, this is a little way of
just kinda hooking things around.
Let's look at this turnaround now.
You could play.
When you hit that F-sharp,
you could play all three strings cuz
they're all part of a D chord.
Third, second and first.
And then when you get to this eighth,
arpeggio, you can let both these strings
And when you get to those last three D
notes in bar eight, you can have the open
D with it.
Notice how I'm adding an E note now.
D, D, E, D.
To that second beat.
Okay, just a few little extras for ya.
I hope you enjoy that.
Of course, we could go further and further
and further depending on your,
your skill level and and, and abilities.
I did do a little triplet somewhere.
Yeah, let's do that.
So instead of playing.
Walking up to the A.
I did a triplet.
Down to the A from the high D.
To start the piece.
One and two.
Now this is the one instance where you'll
do down, up, down, up, up.
You'll do two ups in a row as a way of
flipping the pick and getting it back
in order, because you just played three
notes leading to the down beat.
Down beat should be an up, I mean, should
be a down.
But because you flip the pick, down up,
down up,
you need to do the next note with an up
right away.
Down up, down up, up, [LAUGH] okay?
A and F-sharp are both upstrokes.
Now leading into bar five,
I played a triplet leading me from the
Instead of F-sharp, G, A,
I played F-sharp, G and G-sharp as a
Now keep in mind those have to be quicker
than your eighths.
If your eighths are here, da ca da ca da
ca da ca dum
dum dum dadadada da ca da ca dadadada da
da da da, they're a third again quicker.
All right, that's your helpful hints from
Mike, for today anyway.
[LAUGH] I hope you enjoyed the little
Soldier's Joy.
I know they did.
I believe it was in reference to some of
the drugs that were used during
the Civil War the horrors of medicine in
those days couldn't of been very much fun.
So I believe morphine was the,
the treatment for getting through the pain
of that.
Anyway, enjoy this little tune and we'll
see you around very soon.